I hit a research desert and am all caught up. One new interesting study that I noticed, on breakthrough infections, from North Carolina. The study covered 16,000 vaccinated persons and followed them through September 24. For some reason, infections were self-reported rather than based on recorded test results, so take the results with a grain of salt, but 1.9% of the vaccinated subjects reported becoming infected after vaccination. Most of these were symptomatic. Surprisingly, those who were younger were more likely to report a breakthru. There was no difference in breakthru rates among those who did and didn’t have a prior infection, which is also a little surprising. And look at this, reported mask wearing or not made no difference on breakthrough infections. Vaccination rate in the county of residence had no association with likelihood of breakthru infection. In terms of vaccine received, J & J had the highest rate, followed by Pfizer and the lowest rate was with Moderna. People in the suburbs and rural areas also had higher breakthru rates than those residing in cities. That too is surprising. (Medrxiv Paper)
And at the same time we get this study which claims that vaccination is resulting in a strong response, including against the variants. While the study notes both good circulating antibody, memory B cell response and T cell responses lasting for six months; unfortunately that appears to be the break point at which breakthrus start to multiply quickly, so big caveat on needing a longer followup. (Science Paper)
As has occurred all epidemic, and the US is a big country, we have different trends in different regions at different times. Right now the wave in the south has receded. Not much occuring in the Southwest. The Midwest and Northeast have some heat. Here in Minnesota, if you left aside school testing, we just seem to have a pretty long plateau with some modest increase in cases. I really don’t know which way it goes next. We have a ton of vaccinated people here, but that isn’t stopping cases or hospitalizations or deaths. In fact we have a much higher level of deaths than we did last year at this time. Now this could all roll over in the next couple of weeks; there are some signs of that. But it could also take a leg higher if it matched last year’s pattern.
But more important than tracking the daily epidemic ebbs and flows, we need as a country and as a society to have an exit plan from this epidemic. And it needs to be a plan that has nothing to do with suppressing the virus, but with the notion that we have done immense damage to our people and we need to stop doing that damage and begin to reverse it and return to pre-pandemic life. We have destroyed education and social life for children for 18 months. We have terrified them and everyone else, but the children are less capable of coping with the sustained fear and anxiety and deprivation of social interaction. We have inflicted enormous physical and mental health damage, seen in the toll from drug and alcohol overdoses and abuse and in the increase in acute cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions.
The public health experts and politicians completely failed us by not considering the welfare of all the people in regard to all their health and well-being needs and by focussing so narrowly and obsessively on preventing CV-19 cases, which are non-threatening to 99% plus of the population. And the economic and financial consequences have just been devastating. All of these results, which flow not from the virus but from our chosen response to the epidemic, will be imposing a substantial toll on us for years if not decades.
So we have to stop now, we, like many European countries have, just need to say: “enough, we are going to declare this epidemic over. We are going to stop the obsession, the monomania about CV-19 cases and end all restrictions designed to limit spread, but now known to cause far worse harm to us collectively than CV-19 ever could.”